Welcome to Antequera, a town known as El Corazon de Andalucia (“The Heart of Andalusia”). The town owes this name to its central location among the four big cities: Malaga, Seville, Granada, and Cordoba. Despite this, Antequera still isn’t a popular destination, and it can most certainly be called a hidden gem in Andalusia, with its crown jewel – Alcazaba at the top and mysterious dolmens down below. Chances are quite high that you’ll have the town all for yourself, especially in the low season. Vamos, let’s discover all the best things to do in Antequera, an undiscovered gem in Andalusia.
Interesting fact: the town got its name from the Romans, who called it Antikaria.
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Antequera, Spain FAQ
Antequera is a Spanish town located in Andalusia in the province of Malaga, on Costa del Sol. It sits at an altitude of 575m a.s.l among the beautiful mountainous landscapes. Also, Antequera lies between Malaga, Granada, Cordoba, and Seville which makes it a great starting point for discovering the area in every possible direction.
Antequera is best known for three UNESCO World Heritage sites that are located in or near the city. Those are surrealistic rock formations of El Torcal de Antequera, Antequera Dolmens Site which is single-chamber megalithic tombs and an 800m high limestone rock of La Peña de los Enamorados which resembles a giant man’s face. Altequera can also boast about its charming old town with magnificent Alcazaba, remains of Roman Baths, lots of charming streets and squares, some great viewpoints, and a little too high number of churches.
How can’t it be? For now, Antequera still isn’t a very popular tourist spot in Andalusia, maybe besides the El Torcal de Antequera, which makes it an amazing destination. Especially if you don’t like crowds. The charming old town, spectacular landscapes, and a wide variety of attractions make Antequera worth visiting.
Antequera is home to up to 33 churches – more per inhabitant than anywhere else in Spain! No wonder why it gained its “City of the Churches” nickname.
10+ Things To Do In Antequera, Spain
The one thing that you should absolutely have on your “things to do in Antequera” list is to visit Antequera Alcazaba, one of the most picturesque fortresses in Andalusia. The fortress that dominates the hilltop above the town is from the 14th century, from the Moorish times. Its purpose was to defend the town from Christians, during the constant battles. Thanks to the strategic position and sturdy defensive towers the Moors held off their attackers until 1410 when Prince Ferdinand of Aragon finally conquered the town. Inside, you can walk in the gardens, walk the ramparts and climb the bell tower from 1582 – all of that among the sounds of atmospheric music.
Entrance to Alcazaba costs 6€ for adults and 3€ for children (May 2023). The ticket includes entrance to the Royal Collegiate of Santa Maria and an online audio guide in different languages. For current prices and opening hours visit inspain.org website.
From a distance, Alcazaba is visible from many places in the Antequera, but we recommend heading to the Iglesia de Santa María de Jesús from where in our opinion, it looks the best (take look at the first photo in the post).
Royal Collegiate of Santa Maria
Tour of the Alcazaba of Antequera ends on Mirador Plaza De Santa María, where you’ll find the Royal Collegiate of Santa Maria (es. Real Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor). The church is from the 16th century and is the first columned Renaissance church in Andalusia. The church overlooks the remains of Roman Baths.
If you already bought a ticket to Antequera Alcazaba you can enter the Royal Collegiate of Santa Maria too. If you only wish to see this place separate entrance costs 3€ for adults and 1.5€for children (May 2023). For current prices and opening hours visit inspain.org website.
Remains of Roman Baths
Right next to the Royal Collegiate of Santa Maria you can spot remains of Roman Baths, Termas Romanas de Santa María. They were built in the 1st century, used until the 5th, and only discovered in 1988. Separate rooms, which maintained varying temperatures for the bathers, are still visible, as well as some richly detailed mosaics.
Mirador de las Almenillas
For the best views of Antequera, you’ll want to head to the spectacular Mirador de las Almenillas viewpoint, which is located just a few steps from the Antequera Alcazaba. From there you can enjoy stunning views of the town and its surroundings. You can also try to find all the Antequera churches from there.
Parroquia San Sebastián
One of the places you simply can’t miss in Antequera is San Sebastian Church (es. Parroquia San Sebastian) – all thanks to its magnificent, 60m high, bell tower. The construction of this Renaissance church started in the 16th century, and its present appearance is the result of many additions and reforms during the years.
The church is located at the bottom of the hill where the Alcazaba of Antequera sits, on a pretty square, Plaza Espíritu Santo. This is the place where you can relax for a moment while eating tapas in one of a few restaurants and bars.
Plaza Coso Viejo
Few steps from Plaza Espíritu Santo you’ll find another nice plaza – Plaza Coso Viejo. Square is home to buildings like Palacio De Nájera with Museo de la Ciudad de Antequera inside, and Convento Santa Catalina de Siena. In the middle of the plaza, there’s also a statue representing Ferdinand I of Aragon riding on his horse, who conquered the city in 1410. The plaza was once called the Vegetable Square, and it was the place where the market took place.
Museum of Antequera
If you love learning about history you can’t miss visiting the Museum of Antequera (es. Museo de la Ciudad de Antequera). The museum is located in the Palacio de Nájera on Plaza Coso Viejo, and the 4 floors offer a fascinating insight into the local history starting from the Neolithic times and ending in the present day. The exhibitions include megalithic artifacts, Roman relics, medieval silverware, and baroque paintings.
Entrance to Museo de la Ciudad de Antequera costs €3 normal, €1 children (May 2023). For current prices and opening hours visit museoantequera.wordpress.com website.
Antequera Old Town
One of the best things to do in Antequera is to walk around the town streets and discover its charming hidden corners. In our eyes, Antequera isn’t a classic Andalusian city. There you won’t find many narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed houses decorated with flowers – it can be a nice change from many other white towns and villages in Andalusia. Prepare yourself for steep hills, and wear appropriate footwear.
Antequera Dolmens Site
Antequera Dolmens Site (es. Sitio de los Dólmenes de Antequera) is situated on the outskirts of Antequera. You can easily access it by car, or on foot (20min walk from the city center). Dolmens were built somewhere between 3,500-3,000 BC and were used for rituals and burials and are single-chamber megalithic tombs. There are three dolmens in Antequera to explore: Menga, Viera, and El Romeral. The Menga Dolmen is the largest in the whole of Europe. Menga and Viera Dolmen are close to each other, while El Romeral Dolmen is located 3km further. The Antequera Dolmens Site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. Entry cost: free.
Lovers Rock – La Peña de los Enamorados
Lovers Rock (es. La Peña de los Enamorados) is an 800m high limestone rock, visible from many places in Antequera. Rock resembles the profile of a giant man’s face. There are a few legends explaining the rock’s name: “The Lovers Rock”.
The most popular one says that the daughter of the Muslim ruler fell in love with a Christian soldier from Antequera. As the love between different religions wouldn’t be accepted the two lovers decided to run away together. They were captured at the top of the mountain, but instead of surrendering and giving up their love, they jumped from the rock, holding hands so they could be together for eternity.
La Peña de los Enamorados was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.
El Torcal de Antequera
El Torcal de Antequera definitely should be on your list of things to do in Antequera. It’s located about 15km from the city center, only a 25min drive. El Torcal de Antequera is a unique place at an altitude of 1200m, with surrealistic rock formations, which may leave you speechless. Limestone formations were formed over millions of years by the sea (once it was a seabed that later got uplifted) and then eroded by the rain and wind, forming what we can explore today.
There are three routes that you can follow to explore the Torcal de Antequera. Don’t forget your hiking boots, as the terrain is very rocky and might be muddy after rain.
El Torcal de Antequera was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.
How to get to Antequera, Spain?
Where to park in Antequera?
In Antequera, we left our car in this parking lot for free. From it, you can already enjoy stunning views over Alcazaba and La Peña de los Enamorados. It’s also a short 10min walk from Antequera historic center.
Airports near Antequera
The closest airports to Antequera are located in Malaga (60km away), Granada (90km away), Cordoba (120km away), and Sevilla (160km away). From each of them, you can reach the town by train, bus or bus+train. You can check the connections you are interested in on the rome2rio.com website.
To Antequera by bus
You can very easily get to Antequera by bus. There are many direct and usually cheap connections from many places like Malaga, Benalmadena, Granada, Marbella, or Cordoba. Please check the connections you are interested in on the rome2rio.com website.
To Antequera by train
Antequera has a train station so you can get there easily and usually very fast by train from cities like Malaga, Granada, Cordoba, Seville, or Benalmadena. You can check out a map of available connections on acprail.com. For example, a journey from Malaga will last only about 30min (€8-11), from Granada 45min (€10-35), and 1h45min from Seville (€18-23). To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
Things to do in Antequera, Spain – Summing up
So now you know what are the best things to do in Antequera and what this hidden gem in Spain has to offer. We really enjoyed strolling through its streets and were amazed by the Alcazaba and the lack of tons of tourists. Now it’s your turn to discover its charm, beauty, and secrets. Enjoy!
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Antequera?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Antequera:
Where to sleep in Antequera?
Convento La Magdalena Hotel
Convento La Magdalena Hotel is a historic 16th-century convent converted into a luxury hotel, located in the Andalusian countryside of Antequera. The hotel boasts stunning views of the surrounding mountains and a tranquil atmosphere with a beautiful outdoor pool and gardens. The rooms and suites are elegantly decorated with antique furniture and modern amenities, providing a comfortable stay for guests.
Hotel Meson El Numero Uno
Hotel Meson El Numero Uno is a charming hotel located in the historic center of Antequera. The hotel is housed in a renovated building and features traditional Andalusian architecture and decor. Each room is uniquely decorated and equipped with modern amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves local cuisine and a rooftop terrace with beautiful views of the town and surrounding mountains.
Hotel Antequera is a 4-star hotel situated in the heart of Andalusia, in the city of Antequera. It features modern amenities and services, including a restaurant, bar, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, and sauna. The hotel also offers spacious and elegant rooms, perfect for a comfortable stay while exploring the city's historical and cultural attractions
La Almaceria De Antequera
La Almaceria De Antequera is a charming rural hotel located in Antequera. The hotel features cozy and rustic-style rooms that are equipped with all the modern amenities that guests need for a comfortable stay.
Located in the heart of Antequera's historic center, Coso Viejo features stylish and comfortable accommodations with traditional Andalusian decor. The hotel offers a tranquil courtyard with a plunge pool, a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city, and a convenient location near restaurants, shops, and landmarks.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com
Antequera, Spain - Map of places
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